The year 2016 brought some tough time to the top two smartphone vendors in the world – Apple and Samsung. While it marked the first full year of declining shipments for the iPhone, Samsung suffered for its recent missteps – the Galaxy Note 7 recall – which helped Apple capitalize on the situation and dethrone the South Korean conglomerate as the world’s biggest smartphone vendor in the fourth quarter of this year.
Apple vs. Samsung – The Never-Ending Battle
According to a new report from International Data Corporation (IDC), the strong sales of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus played the most critical role in Apple’s journey to the top. Although the Cupertino tech giant witnessed the first down year for iPhone in 2016, it managed to perform well in the holiday quarter. The company shipped a record 78.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, up 4.7 percent from the same quarter last year.
Apple successfully regained the crown without introducing any drastically different industrial design to the iPhone 7. However, the newest model of the flagship smartphone did feature some significant improvements over its predecessor. For instance, an improved processor, a more robust camera, water resistance and new color options are some of the notable enhancements that likely turned the game in Apple’s favor.
When it comes to Samsung, it couldn’t recover from the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco and continued losing momentum during the period. Samsung captured 18.1 percent market share in Q4, compared with Apple’s 18.3 percent. In terms of shipments, the Korean company shipped 77.5 million units during the three-month period, down from the 81.7 million units shipped last holiday quarter.
However, Samsung still managed to find some success with the Galaxy S7 and the J-series devices in multiple markets that helped the company maintained its lead on an annualized basis. In 2016, Samsung shipped 311.4 million smartphones worldwide while Apple shipped 215.4 million units of the iPhone.
Other Key Highlights
In addition to the battle between Apple and Samsung, IDC highlighted many other interesting facts that will very likely impact the impending quarters:
- Several Chinese smartphone vendors like Huawei, OPPO, and vivo have solidified their position in the so-called smartphone war as Samsung and Apple continue to fight for the top spot.
- Huawei, the third largest smartphone vendor, captured double-digit market share (10.6 percent) for the first time.
- For OPPO, it was the company’s fourth straight quarter of greater than 100 percent year-over-year growth.
- Vivo also experienced over 100 percent year-over-year growth in 2016 while it continues its extremely aggressive marketing strategy in Asian countries.